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Air Force announces Portraits in Courage

Posted 8/19/2012   Updated 8/20/2012 Email story   Print story

    


Release Number: 080812

8/19/2012 - NEW YORK  -- Showcasing America's Airmen in New York City

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley announced the 20 stories of heroism, valor, sacrifice and bravery selected as part of the seventh volume of the Air Force's Portraits in Courage.
This series highlights Airmen who display exceptional bravery and determination in the face of especially challenging or dangerous circumstances. To date, the Air Force has recognized 153 Airmen through this project.

"Portraits in Courage highlights the honor, valor and devotion of our Airmen who have risked life and limb so that others may live. They are the best of the best and exemplify our core values of integrity, service and excellence," said Mr. Donley upon announcing the names at today's opening ceremony of Air Force Week New York City at the Intrepid Sea, Air, Space Museum.

"These exceptional Airmen persisted through extraordinary circumstances, confronted unforeseen dangers and surmounted seemingly impossible challenges, all to accomplish their missions, and often saving the lives of others in the process," wrote Chief Master Sgt. James Roy, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in the volumes preface.

Five of the 20 Portraits in Courage recipients were recognized today during the opening ceremony for Air Force Week New York City at the Intrepid Sea, Air Space Museum here.

All of this year's Portraits in Courage stories and stories from previous volumes are featured on the Air Force Portraits in Courage website: http://www.af.mil/specials/courage/index.html.

This volume features:
Tech. Sgt. David Perez, 377th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
While serving as a convoy commander in Iraq, a high-speed collision between two Iraqi passenger vehicles occurred near the convoy. Both vehicles burst into flames. Perez halted the convoy and directed his fellow service members to render aid. They saved four lives, including two children.

Tech. Sgt. Scott Saenz, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, Scott AFB, Ill.
While serving on an explosive ordnance team in Afghanistan, Saenz's team leader was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device. Without concern for his personal safety, Saenz rushed through dangerous terrain to render life-saving medical assistance to his team leader.

Staff Sgt. Jeffery Salazar, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
While serving as a joint terminal attack controller in Afghanistan, Salazar and Soldiers from a special forces unit were attacked by Taliban. While engaging the enemy with his rifle, a grenade explosion knocked him off his feet. Though he received fragmentation injuries, Salazar fought through the pain, continuing with the four-hour engagement until the mission was complete.

Staff Sgt. Vanessa Salzl Bibb, 59th Medical Wing, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas
While serving on a provincial reconstruction team that was attacked in Afghanistan, the aeromedical technician facilitated the treatment of 14 critically-wounded personnel, all of whom lived. She later helped evacuate coalition casualties from a burning building and helped fight the fire.

Staff Sgt. Travis Sanford, 10th Combat Weather Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
During an attack by insurgents in Afghanistan, Sanford rendered life-saving medical attention to a Marine while exposing himself to enemy fire. He then helped load the Marine on stretcher and moved him to an evacuation point, while further exposing his position to the enemy. Throughout the ordeal, Sanford continued to perform his duties as a special operations weatherman. Once the patient was loaded onto a helicopter, Sanford ran back to join his teammates in the firefight.

Staff Sgt. Ben Seekell, 4th Security Forces Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
While serving on a security mission in Afghanistan, Seekell and his working dog Charlie were injured by an explosion. Despite losing his leg, Seekell was determined to return to duty with Charlie at his side. He had to endure multiple surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy. Only eight months after sustaining his injuries, Seekell managed to score a 93.5 percent on his Air Force physical fitness test, and eventually returned to duty with his partner.

Master Sgt. Christopher Uriarte, 212th Rescue Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
Uriarte and his pararescue team were assigned a mission to rescue to rescue the crew and passengers of a civilian aircraft that crashed in Alaska's Chugach Mountains. Due to heavy winds, the team had to land on a glacier that was 3,000 feet beneath and five miles from the crash. After nearly 24 hours of non-stop climbing, they finally reached the crash site and were able to treat those who were injured.

Staff Sgt. Trevor Brewer, 48th Security Forces Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, U.K.
As Brewer waited on a bus with 14 other security forces Airmen in Frankfurt, Germany, when a gunman boarded the bus and began shooting. Brewer managed to distract the gunman, chased him off the bus through the crowded airport terminal to a place that prevented the gunman's escape until German police arrived.

Senior Airman Veronica Cox, 33rd Rescue Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan
After a massive earthquake rocked northeastern Japan, Cox, an intelligence analyst fluent in Japanese, volunteered to help. While serving with an air crew on a search and rescue mission, Cox spotted an emergency message crafted out of rocks on the roof of a building in an isolated town. Further investigation by her team led to the rescue of 200 Japanese civilians. As the only Japanese speaking member of the crew, she was able to relay precise medical and survival requirements to Japanese disaster response teams.

Capt. Jennifer Curtis, 75th Medical Operations Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah
As her camp in Afghanistan was attacked, Curtis, a family nurse practitioner, Curtis identified six injured service members, dragged them into the medical facility and provided treatment until medics arrived. Later during her deployment, she treated a local woman who was having a heart attack in the midst of being attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.

Capt. Darrel Deleon, 1st Space Operations Squadron, Schriever AF, Colo.
While serving in Afghanistan, DeLeon's camp was attacked by a team of insurgents. As he joined the fight, he noticed a downed Soldier still vulnerable to enemy fire. Without concern for his personal safety, DeLeon, a former Army medic, pulled two injured Soldiers from harm's way, rendered first aid and transported them to a medical facility.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz, 90th Civil Engineer Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.
While serving in support of a joint combat operation in Afghanistan, Schwartz methodically cleared a path through hostile territory, effectively locating and neutralizing two explosive devices. During the operation, a device targeting his vehicle detonated, leaving Schwartz mortally wounded.

Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace, 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, U.K.
While serving with Army scouts in Afghanistan, Wallace and the team were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. Throughout the initial stages of the fight, he alternated between engaging the enemy with his rifle and documenting the fight with his camera. He was eventually wounded and knocked unconscious, but recovered quickly and joined the fight, helping to pinpoint enemy locations and investigating an evacuation route for the wounded. Due to his contributions, none of the injured Soldiers were killed.

Master Sgt. Angela Blue, 355th Medical Operations Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
While deployed to Afghanistan, Blue's base came under attack. She triaged the wounded, directed medical care and arranged for medical evacuation while still under attack. While traveling in a resupply mission later in her deployment, she provided immediate medical care that saved the lives of four Afghan soldiers who were injured by roadside bomb. Just hours later, Blue sustained combat-related injuries and required medical evacuation after her vehicle was struck by another roadside bomb.

Capt. Barry Crawford Jr., 104th Fighter Squadron, Md.
Throughout a ten-hour fire fight with insurgents, Crawford exposed himself to grave risk on four separate occasions while helping to evacuate wounded Soldiers and Afghan commandos and pinpointing enemy locations to better coordinate airstrikes. More than 80 insurgents were killed during the fight.

Tech. Sgt. Tavis Delaney, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Camp Murray, Wash.
After his team was pinned down by a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan, Delaney coordinated airstrikes that allowed the team to reposition. As the 15-hour fight went on Delaney helped guide 26 strikes on heavily fortified enemy positions. The 250 enemy fighters were completely decimated while not a single American or allied service member was significantly injured or killed.

Lt. Col. Karl Ingeman, 555th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy
While flying an F-16 as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, Ingeman responded to two aircrew members who ejected from their F-15E. As ground forces closed in on the downed aircrew, Ingeman and his wingman flew into hostile air space within range of enemy surface-to-air weapons. He helped identify the aircrew's location and performed two low-altitude, high-speed passes over enemy vehicles as a show of force, effectively dispersing them away from the downed aircrew.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Jarrell, 81st Security Forces Squadron, Keesler AFB, Miss.
After coming under attack while serving with Soldiers in Afghanistan, Jarrell, a military working dog handler, provided suppressive fire that enabled the recovery of injured or wounded service members. After the team's mine-detecting equipment was abandoned during the fight, Jarrell, with the help of his dog Toki, stepped up to search for mines along a path leading to a safe position for ammunition resupply and medical evacuation.

Staff Sgt. Kyle Klapperich, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Klapperich served as the sole medic on a team of Navy Seals and Afghan commandos in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While performing an operation near an insurgent stronghold, the team found themselves in an area full of improvised explosive devices. After a first explosion, Klapperich rendered aid to several members of the team, including an Afghan commando who was critically injured and fell onto a pressure plate IED. Klapperich continued to render medical care even as an explosive ordnance specialist disabled the explosive.

Capt. Blake Luttrell, 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, N.C.
While battling insurgents in Afghanistan, Luttrell aggressively engaged the enemy in order to recover a wounded Soldier, rendered life-saving medical care, then coordinated a show of force with attack helicopters and established a safe landing zone to medically evacuate the wounded Soldier. He then proceeded to coordinate the release of a 2,000 pound bomb that effectively ended the enemy resistance.

For further up-to-date information and a list of other events, check out the Air Force Week website, www.airforceweek.af.mi l , visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AirForceNYC  or follow us @AirForceNYC and #AFWeek on Twitter.



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